Why "71º & Sunny?"

I consider 71º to be the perfect temperature. Not too cold and not too hot. I also love perfect sunny days. The vast majority of days are not 71º & Sunny and yet, all days were created by God's hand and they are still gifts, even if they don't fit my ridiculous definition of perfection. My struggle with OCD has at times imprisoned me in an impossible attempt to achieve perfection. I'm now learning to love all kinds of days that don't even come close to 71º & Sunny.

Please leave me a comment below. I really want to know what you are thinking!

Thursday, February 27, 2014

In It To End It - End Human Slavery

There are a few things in this world that really cut me to the core. One of them is watching others suffer with anxiety disorders. One of the others, is knowing that there are twenty-seven MILLION, yes MILLION, men, women, and children being held in slavery. Today. Right now. This very minute. Maybe even next door. It is a blight on humanity and it must be ended. And similarly to putting an end to mental illness stigma, we must educate the world on what is going on all around us, to even begin to wipe this horrible crime off the face of the earth.
Red X on my hand to draw
attention to the cause.

I'm in it to end it.



Monday, February 24, 2014

It's A Feeling, Not A Fact

It's a feeling, not a fact. It's a feeling, not a fact. It's a feeling, not a fact.

Ok, I think I got it now.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Playing Our Cards

We have no control over the hand we are dealt. We can only control how we play our cards.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Alligators And Biting Ants

I'm having a great time visiting some family in Florida this week. Since I left NH, I've missed a snowstorm and frigid temperatures, and I will be missing another storm this weekend. I'm one lucky girl!

My days here have been filled with reading, sunbathing, swimming, eating out, and wearing my beloved flip-flops! And the sun. Oh the sweet, sweet sun.
Myakka River State Park, Sarasota, FL

I'm also excited because I have been doing so much traveling by myself over the last few years that flying solo has become very easy and (almost!) non-stressful. Hmmm, repeat an action multiple times and then it gets easier? Where have I heard that before?

So yesterday, we went to visit the Myakka River State Park. It was so beautiful. The best part of all? I didn't have obsessions about almost anything while we were there! We did a river boat tour, and saw at least a dozen alligators sunning themselves on the
banks. We followed that with a tram ride through other parts of the park. During the ride, the tram driver passed a little bit of vegetation around for us to touch. I had a brief thought of possible contamination from all the other visitors touching it too, but I didn't let it stop me.

At one point, I took some selfies in front of an alligator. All of a sudden, I felt something biting my foot. When I looked down, I realized that my (flip-flopped) feet were covered in biting ants. I had accidentally stepped on an ant hill! So here I was, standing barefoot in a parking lot, smacking my sandals against the pavement trying to get the ants off. In the past, that would have been horrifying for me for the rest of the day - you know, bugs, bare feet on the ground, etc. Ok, it was slightly horrifying, I mean, I do hate bugs. Especially ones that want to eat me. I was however, able to move on from this incident with no issues. Me, out in nature, with no desire to shower afterwards? Aaaaaah, freedom from OCD!
Mommy turtle is digging
a hole to lay her eggs.

I should have challenged myself more by using the restroom there, but hey, that's for another day. The only thing I did later was to wash my hands just one time quickly before lunch.

Mouth wide open!
So . . . what kinds of adventures could you experience if anxiety didn't get in your way? If you are putting off treatment, please don't! Alligators and biting ants await you! On second thought, that might not be the best thing to say to encourage you. : )

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Sandra Bullock

Photo from http://www.biography

I happened to catch an episode of Charlie Rose the other day. Um, no, I definitely don’t usually watch Charlie Rose! However, he was interviewing Sandra Bullock and her director about the movie "Gravity." Being a bit of an amateur actress and director myself, I’m always intrigued by actors and the mindset they use to get into character, so it caught my attention. There was the usual discussion of behind the scenes types of things, but about halfway through the interview, Sandra's comments got more philosophical.

I’ve quoted her exactly, however, I’ve cut out some unnecessary stuff, including the statements of the director and Charlie Rose, just to make it a quicker read. I don’t believe my edits have really changed the meaning of anything. (Well, at least that wasn’t my intent!)

“I think in the end it comes to not knowing. Not knowing and knowing we are in absolutely no control over anything. And once you admit that you have absolutely no control over anything I think you, you sort of are more in tune and in sync with really the bigger picture, you know."
“And it, it comes back to the, the metaphor of just letting go, and it’s easier said than done. Um, but going back in and saying, ‘I’m gonna say yes to an experience that scares the crap out of me,’ um, it’s the unknown . . .” 
“Everyone gets knocked about.”
In explaining why she accepted the part in "Gravity," she said, “I saw this as hopefully a way to get over a lot of fears that I had, and I did. And it was you know, the sweetest, sweetest time I’ve had in a very long time. Both personally and, and in the work environment.”
“I can no longer just be afraid. I can’t let fear dictate . . .” 
“Whatever I’m afraid of, I go, I need to dive in and figure out why I’m so afraid of that.”

The only thing I would personally add to this is that we do indeed have some control - control over how we respond and how we react to all the uncontrollable people and events surrounding us.

Very cool lady.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

What's Worse? Fear Or Regret?

An online friend of mine recently posted this:

Fear is temporary, regret is forever.

Words of great wisdom.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

What's In A Label?

Bipolar. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Schizophrenia. Generalized Anxiety Disorder. Depression. These are all "labels" given to patients when they meet the requirements of a mental health issue in The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). The DSM, compiled by the American Psychiatric Association, is essentially the psychological bible of mental illness. It is used by every mental health treatment provider to assign a label to someone's type of illness. The DSM gets updated every so often, and the latest version, DSM 5, was just released in 2013.

I've been thinking about these labels recently, and what they actually mean. Sometimes, I think we can get caught up in them and it can affect how we look at ourselves, and even how we act. Thankfully, I've been able to shake those invisible chains off.

How did I do this? Well, I decided that it was very important to remember that a diagnosis is just a kind of guide, or description, for how best to provide treatment to relieve a set of symptoms. For example, this is really embarrassing to write about, but I will anyway. I struggle with a mild form of compulsive skin picking. I believe that it wasn't in the DSM until version 5. Does that mean that I didn't have CSP? Of course not. I still had it even though it wasn't officially recognized. Sometimes, the editors of the DSM remove or alter a diagnosis. Over the past year, I can remember reading about the hotly debated removal of the category of Asperger's in this most recent DSM. Those who suffer with the symptoms that used to be listed under Asperger's still suffer with the exact same symptoms after publication. They are just categorized differently. Whether that is a good thing or not, well, that is a different story.

These diagnoses (or "descriptions") are fluid and continually changing. In effect, they are a temporary holding catalogue of symptoms, and the catalogue is constantly being refined with each new volume of the DSM. In anxiety disorders, there is a lot of overlap in symptoms. In fact, there is a lot of overlap in symptoms for quite a few conditions, so no wonder that it might be difficult in getting an accurate diagnosis! Ultimately, it really doesn't matter what we are diagnosed with. It only matters that our treatment providers can find a way to help us find healing. It's an imperfect science, and frankly, I think there is a bit of an art form to it. This could explain why some therapists are so much better than others, just like in the case of physical medical doctors.

These thoughts came to me one day after doing some reading on the subject. This seemed to make sense to me, and it even provided a bit of comfort. So what's in a label? Maybe not as much as we think there is!